A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

“Virtuosity,” the story of the 14th Cliburn Competition, directed by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Christopher Wilkinson, will air nationally on PBS this Friday, July 31, at 9 p.m. ET (check your local listings).

“Virtuosity” features the 30 competitors, including Vadym Kholodenko (Ukraine), Beatrice Rana (Italy), Sean Chen (United States), Fei-Fei Dong (China), Nikita Mndoyants (Russia), Tomoki Sakata (Japan), Alessandro Deljavan (Italy) and Steven Lin (United States), as well as artistic collaborators Maestro Leonard Slatkin, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and Brentano String Quartet.

It premiered in November 2014 at Bass Performance Hall (Fort Worth, Texas) in a special opening-night screening for the Lone Star Film Festival and went on to screen at several international film festivals including Seattle, Palm Springs and Minneapolis St. Paul.

“Virtuosity” searches for the musical souls of some of the most gifted young pianists on the planet as they try to make a name for themselves at the 2013 Cliburn Competition. The pressure on these artists is overwhelming because the stakes are so high: prize money, concert bookings, a recording contract, a career.

At the heart of this story is the courage it takes for a 20-year-old to go onstage alone before 2,000 people, and hundreds of thousands more online, and play a unique interpretation of one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the piano. The Competition requires not only a transcendent musical ability, but a mental toughness that must sustain the soloist through three straight weeks of performance. The Cliburn becomes as much a test of character as a musical proving ground.

For more information about the Cliburn, visit www.cliburn.org.